Chapter 13. Cracks in the Pillars

Chapter 13. Cracks in the Pillars

        Okay, so who is watching the court? I’ve come to the unfortunate conclusion that no one is holding them accountable for their actions.

—Emily Gallup, family court mediator

ON FRIDAY, OCTOBER 12TH, 2012, EMILY GALLUP, THE FORMER MEDIATOR, strode up the steps of the federal courthouse in Sacramento to hear the conclusion of her years-long battle to save her reputation and reform the Nevada County Family Court. The weather was about 20 degrees cooler than normal but still pleasant, in the low-60s, and she had eschewed her favored summer dresses for a more businesslike dark skirt and blazer. Gallup was nervous but relieved all at once. She had spent the past two years fighting the system at great stress to her family’s finances, her marriage, and her mental well-being. The past two weeks had been a crescendo of that conflict, with the family court’s attorneys and CEO portraying her as a disgruntled former employee, an unethical mediator, an immature human being, and even a thief. Her legal bills had soared into the six figures and she required wine and pills in order to sleep most nights. She was ready for her travails to be over, but because she was still a very young woman and her entire future hung in the balance, she could not afford to be ambivalent.

Gallup’s attorney, Kathy Jones, a tiny but athletic woman her client nervously chided for wearing a mullet into the 21s t century, held her hand as they entered the courtroom. Unlike her client, Jones was confident. She felt that Gallup had charmed the jury, and after all, Jones had handily won the “binding” arbitration of Gallup’s original workplace discrimination complaint against the Nevada County Court. This trial was the court’s response to that stunning rebuke. But this time, better still, Jones had gotten to present her case to a jury rather than merely a retired attorney-turned-arbitrator who happened to be an older white guy.

Gallup was still focused on the negative, the risks. It still didn’t make sense to her that the court could challenge the outcome of a “binding” arbitration with a trial. Most worrisome, the judge presiding over her jury had been picked by the Administrative Office of the Courts, the overseer of the courts she had initially called for help. After they’d passed the buck, she had lost faith that the AOC was interested in ensuring justice and had criticized them in interviews with the local paper as well as in meetings with the Reformers. Buy the book to read more…

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