By Guy Ashley © 2000, Marin Independent Journal 4/30/00

Three Marin judges targeted in a recall effort have fired back with written statements that deny allegations of misconduct and assert the drive to oust them would be a waste of taxpayer funds.

"An election in connection with this petition will cost the taxpayers an estimated $500,000 to $700,000," Superior Court Judge Michael Dufficy wrote in a statement filed with the county Registrar of Voters. "This is neither wise nor necessary."

Dufficy and judges Terrence Boren and Lynn Duryee are targeted in the recall drive launched by citizens unhappy with their rulings in child-custody cases.

Leaders of the recall drive have pledged to spend the summer gathering signatures in hopes of forcing a special election to ask if the judges should be replaced.

Only Dufficy is a family-law judge. Critics are seeking Duryee's recall because of her involvement in one heated child-custody case in 1998, while a petition filed with the registrar says Boren should be recalled for decisions he made in a criminal case involving a Novato woman's alleged violation of a family court order.

Duryee's response to the recall drive was perhaps the most pointed of those submitted.

"The few people spearheading this campaign are dissatisfied litigants," she wrote. "They had fair and public trials before an impartial judge who treated them with respect and dignity. Now having lost their trials, motions, appeals and reviews, they ask taxpayers to spend $500,000 in a special election so they can attack the judge."

Madelyne DeJusto, Marin's assistant registrar of voters, said a recall election won't take place for at least a year. She said a special election on the recall issue would cost at least $500,000.

Boren's response addresses directly his handling of the case of Carol Mardeusz, a Novato woman charged with violating a court order granting custody of her daughter to the girl's father.

"A review of the court documents and transcripts in this case, open to the public, will confirm that I have conducted all proceedings fairly, impartially, and with proper and due regard for the rights of all the participants,'' Boren wrote.

Ironically, a scheduling conflict forced Boren this week to send the Mardeusz case to another judge.

Petitions filed by critics last week triggered what is believed to be the first formal recall effort ever against judges in Marin. All three judges are serving six-year terms, and were elected after running unopposed.

The petitions against Dufficy and Duryee cite criticism of them in a citizen- commissioned report on the Marin family court system that accused judges of routinely ruling against the interests of children, and in favor of cronies and parties with the upper hand financially.

Though Duryee normally doesn't handle family-law matters, she was involved in a child-custody dispute involving San Rafael auto dealer John Irish and his former wife, Deborah, a case that is a centerpiece of the report issued in February by New York investigator Karen Winner.

The petition seeking Boren's recall says the judge violated Mardeusz' rights in denying her petition to have her case sent to the federal courts.

To reach the voters, the recall effort will have four months to gather about 12,000 signatures per judge, DeJusto said.


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