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MARIN DA TARGETED FOR RECALL
Marin Independent Journal 5/12/00 by Guy Ashley© 2000

The furor over child-custody cases in the Marin courts reached beyond the local judiciary yesterday when petitions were filed to launch a recall campaign against District Attorney Paula Kamena.

Kamena, who scored a runaway election victory two years ago, becomes the fourth elected official at the Marin courthouse to be targeted in a recall movement led by citizens angry about what they say are a series of illogical and improper child-custody decisions in the local courts.

Three Superior Court judges - Michael Dufficy, Lynn Duryee and Terrence Boren - were named on recall petitions filed last month.

The petition filed against Kamena cites a bitter child custody case that prompted her office to file criminal charges against a Novato woman, Carol Mardeusz. The petition accuses Kamena of "acting in a criminal conspiracy'' by prosecuting Mardeusz, who was indicted by a grand jury on charges of perjury and attempting to take unlawful custody of a child. The child at issue is her daughter, who was placed in the custody of her father by a Sonoma County court, despite assertions by Mardeusz that the girl was subject to abuse outside her care.

The same case is detailed in the petition calling for the recall of Boren, who presided over the case until it was sent to another judge earlier this month.

Kamena said she won't yield to the pressure brought by the signature gatherers.

"I absolutely refuse to be intimidated into not prosecuting a case that we feel is being appropriately prosecuted,'' she said.

Mardeusz, who filed the petition with the Marin Registrar of Voters yesterday afternoon, said she believes seeking Kamena's ouster is her only recourse.

"The local justice system doesn't protect children,'' she said. "And now they're trying to throw me in jail.''

While the petitions have launched what is believed to be the first recall campaign involving judges and a district attorney in Marin, the critics have yet to face the toughest part of their battle.

The petitions announcing a recall drive need only 20 verifiable signatures. For a recall election to be held, critics will have to gather about 13,000 signatures for each judge, and about 14,000 signatures for Kamena, according to county guidelines.

Even if the critics reach their goal, officials in the registrar's office say the process of gathering and verifying signatures is so time consuming that it would be at least a year before a recall election could be held.

Any recall probably would take place through a countywide special election, which Assistant Registrar Madelyne DeJusto said would cost at least $500,000.

In addition to the Mardeusz case, the petition filed yesterday cites Kamena's decision not to prosecute two members of the Marin County Board of Supervisors, Annette Rose and John Kress, who both admitted earlier this year that they violated county policy by making personal purchases on their county-issued credit cards.

Kamena said she could not prove the criminal intent necessary to bring charges because county policies regarding credit card use were ambiguous.

"You cannot prosecute someone if there's no crime committed,'' she said yesterday.

Peter Romanowsky, a Sausalito pastor at the center of the recall drives, said the movement was galvanized by an outside investigator's report issued in February that rapped the local judiciary for what it called improper child-custody decisions.

The report by investigator Karen Winner was commissioned by several court critics, including Martin Silverman, a former member of the Marin civil grand jury.

Kamena revealed earlier this week that her office was investigating whether Silverman breached his oath to keep grand jury matters confidential by revealing publicly that complaints that prompted the report originated with the grand jury.

The matter is not listed on the petition filed yesterday, but - in Romanowsky's eyes - it was the final straw. "She's got to go,'' he said.

Kamena said she is hopeful that the same community support she received during a heated election campaign in 1998 will serve her well when the petition gatherers take to the streets.

"I have great faith in the citizens of Marin County,'' she said. "I only hope that people will look a little deeper into some of these issues before they just sign some piece of paper.''

Contact reporter Guy Ashley via e-mail at

 

 
Marin DA targeted for recall

By Guy Ashley

The furor over child-custody cases in the Marin courts reached beyond the local judiciary yesterday when petitions were filed to launch a recall campaign against District Attorney Paula Kamena.

Kamena, who scored a runaway election victory two years ago, becomes the fourth elected official at the Marin courthouse to be targeted in a recall movement led by citizens angry about what they say are a series of illogical and improper child-custody decisions in the local courts.

Three Superior Court judges - Michael Dufficy, Lynn Duryee and Terrence Boren - were named on recall petitions filed last month.

The petition filed against Kamena cites a bitter child custody case that prompted her office to file criminal charges against a Novato woman, Carol Mardeusz. The petition accuses Kamena of "acting in a criminal conspiracy'' by prosecuting Mar-deusz, who was indicted by a grand jury on charges of perjury and attempting to take unlawful custody of a child. The child at issue is her daughter, who was placed in the custody of her father by a Sonoma County court, despite assertions by Mardeusz that the girl was subject to abuse outside her care.

The same case is detailed in the petition calling for the recall of Boren, who presided over the case until it was sent to another judge earlier this month.

Kamena said she won't yield to the pressure brought by the signature gatherers.

"I absolutely refuse to be intimidated into not prosecuting a case that we feel is being appropriately prosecuted,'' she said.

Mardeusz, who filed the petition with the Marin Registrar of Voters yesterday afternoon, said she believes seeking Kamena's ouster is her only recourse.

"The local justice system doesn't protect children,'' she said. "And now they're trying to throw me in jail.''

While the petitions have launched what is believed to be the first recall campaign involving judges and a district attorney in Marin, the critics have yet to face the toughest part of their battle.

The petitions announcing a recall drive need only 20 verifiable signatures. For a recall election to be held, critics will have to gather about 13,000 signatures for each judge, and about 14,000 signatures for Kamena, according to county guidelines.

Even if the critics reach their goal, officials in the registrar's office say the process of gathering and verifying signatures is so time consuming that it would be at least a year before a recall election could be held.

Any recall probably would take place through a countywide special election, which Assistant Registrar Madelyne DeJusto said would cost at least $500,000.

In addition to the Mardeusz case, the petition filed yesterday cites Kamena's decision not to prosecute two members of the Marin County Board of Supervisors, Annette Rose and John Kress, who both admitted earlier this year that they violated county policy by making personal purchases on their county-issued credit cards.

Kamena said she could not prove the criminal intent necessary to bring charges because county policies regarding credit card use were ambiguous.

"You cannot prosecute someone if there's no crime committed,'' she said yesterday.

Peter Romanowsky, a Sausalito pastor at the center of the recall drives, said the movement was galvanized by an outside investigator's report issued in February that rapped the local judiciary for what it called improper child-custody decisions.

The report by investigator Karen Winner was commissioned by several court critics, including Martin Silverman, a former member of the Marin civil grand jury.

Kamena revealed earlier this week that her office was investigating whether Silverman breached his oath to keep grand jury matters confidential by revealing publicly that complaints that prompted the report originated with the grand jury.

The matter is not listed on the petition filed yesterday, but - in Romanowsky's eyes - it was the final straw. "She's got to go,'' he said.

Kamena said she is hopeful that the same community support she received during a heated election campaign in 1998 will serve her well when the petition gatherers take to the streets.

"I have great faith in the citizens of Marin County,'' she said. "I only hope that people will look a little deeper into some of these issues before they just sign some piece of paper.''

Contact reporter Guy Ashley via e-mail at