Dateline: 10/20/08 © 2008

The insect known as a flea passes through a life cycle consisting of egg, larva, pupa and adult. The adult flea cannot survive or reproduce by laying eggs without a blood meal, but it can live two months to one year without feeding. Fleas are bloodsucking parasites of pets, livestock and humans. These insects can travel rapidly by jumping and they are capable of spectacular leaps, covering distances up to one hundred times their body length.

These parasites called fleas have a human counterpart also labeled FLEAs and these parasites originated in Marin County, California. The California FLEAs consist of a group of lawyers highly favored by the courts in Marin. They call themselves the Family Law Elite Attorneys. The clients of these attorneys are assured that they will win their cases by simply hiring a FLEA. These court jesters joined the tight little club in the early 1980’s uniting under the leadership of fellow attorney Michael Buck Dufficy. Every year they would gather for the Memorial Day holiday at Michael and Penelope Dufficy’s historic Pioneer Hotel in Sheep Ranch, California. (Click. Sheep Ranch, California -- where the Marin bar bellies up to Judge Michael Buck Dufficy's bar at his Pioneer Hotel by Virginia McCullough, 5/21/01)

When Michael Dufficy became a judge in 1990 he celebrated by hosting a huge party for the clique at Sheep Ranch (Click. Odor! Odor in the Court by Matt Isaacs, S.F. Weekly, 10/10/08) One of the key figures in this “elite” club of lawyers was an attorney named Terence Frederick Colyer. In 1997 an employee of Colyer’s law firm characterized Terence Colyer as “brilliant” and “highly aggressive” but one “who uses the law like a rapier” often “papering people to death”. Papering is described as a legal device of escalating paper filings in litigation with the express purpose of increasing the opponent’s litigation cost. The technique depletes the opponent’s financial resources resulting in their losing through attrition. Critics of Terence Colyer stated that the right or wrong of a case was of no concern to attorney Colyer. He only cared about winning in Judge Dufficy’s courtroom. Mr. Colyer’s clients always seemed to be the one who held the family purse strings and could pay the attorney’s expensive legal bills.

In 1997, the Marin County Civil Grand Jury in California voted to conduct an investigation into allegations of improprieties in the family law court. The decision to investigate was prompted after a number of citizens wrote letters to the Grand Jury, complaining that Judge Dufficy was intentionally flouting the laws and manipulating case outcomes by showing gross favoritism to certain lawyers such as Mauna Berkov, Terence Colyer and Verna Adams, prior to her appointment to the bench in late 1999. At the time, Colyer and Adams, along with Mary Halbert, co-owned a law office which is called "633 Law Offices (633 5th Avenue) according to public records.

Terence Colyer, his second wife Jackie Leo Colyer and Dufficy’s close friend and associate Verna Adams all enjoyed Memorial Day parties at Judge Dufficy’s Pioneer Hotel with the other FLEAs. Criticism escalated after it was disclosed that Judge Dufficy’s wife worked as a paralegal for many of the law firms that appeared before Dufficy in court. Litigants appearing before Judge Dufficy were never informed about this potential conflict of interest. In fact between the years 1991 and 1996 Penelope Dufficy worked for the Adams and Dornan law firm signing documents with her maiden name “Thorp” in an apparent attempt to avoid detection.

The lines between the official court positions and the FLEAs’ ambitions began to disappear. Colyer’s one-time, law partner Paul Camera once said, “We called if the 'Verna Factor;' if Verna Adams was representing the opposing side in Dufficy's court, you might as well not show up.” The “Verna Factor” extended to her fellow FLEAs and her business and law partners, including, but not limited to, Terence Colyer. As ex-FLEA member Katherine Ballentine Shepherd stated, “"Naturally, we were all ecstatic when Mike (Dufficy) became a judge," Shepherd says. "You can't pay for that kind of access.”

In 1997 the Marin County Grand Jury voted 19 to 0 to investigate Judge Dufficy. In February 2000 the highly critical Karen Winner Report was issued naming Judge Dufficy and members of the FLEAs including Terence Colyer. The report reaffirmed litigants' testimony before the grand jury citing serious violations of legal and civil rights, as well as violations of the California Code of Civil Procedure and Marin County Local Rules of Court. Finally a recall drive was begun against Judge Dufficy and other judges for their obvious bias in court proceedings. On May 26, 2000 Judge Dufficy resigned from hearing Family Law Court Cases citing health reasons.

However, the FLEAs were not ready to give up their devastating impact on families. They rallied around the judges like pit bulls, issuing a point-by-point critique of the Winner Report titled Rebuttal to Winner Report. Old friend and frequent guest of Dufficy's Pioneer Hotel, attorney Terence Colyer, said, "Ms. Winner's just a pen for hire." His second wife Jackie Leo Colyer had also been a frequent benefactor of Judge Dufficy's largesse during the 7 1/2 years she was with her ex-husband. However, on January 2, 2000 attorney Colyer had given Jackie Colyer $1,500 and thrown her out of their home. Colyer's fellow "pens for hire" and the judges they protect, rallied to Colyer’s support, just as they had in supporting Judge Dufficy. The former Mrs. Colyer discussed her experiences with the Marin Family Law Courts on her various internet sites all of which were eventually shut down by judges in Marin County.

There were several investigations by the FBI into the conduct of Judge Michael Buck Dufficy and his infamous FLEAs. The FBI ultimately declined to bring charges. The California State Attorney General has the jurisdiction to prosecute judges if they violate the penal code. No criminal charges were brought by this office against Judge Dufficy and his FLEAs. The Commission on Judicial Performance has the responsibility to file charges if state judges violate ethics or if they are convicted of any state crimes. This Commission privately censored Judge Michael Buck Dufficy twice for his conduct in two separate cases.

The Marin County Grand Jury investigation, the Karen Winner Report, the FBI investigations, the countless complaints from family law litigants, the numerous newspaper articles, the attempted recall of the Marin County Superior Court Judges and the Marin County District Attorney…. all ground to a halt and neither the judges nor the FLEAs were prosecuted. Over the next six years between 2002 and 2008 things quietly returned to “normal”.

Then, in February of 2008, this reporter received information from a confidential source that FLEA Terence Colyer had hopped up to Washington State and ingratiated himself with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). As a “volunteer” Colyer was using his legal experience in an attempt to influence a Washington state court’s decision that would determine whether or not a little three year old girl would ever know her mother and her grandparents. Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services had given this fragile child to a foster mother. Over the next six months the forced separation of mother and child would become a very high profile case. Terence Colyer was once again in a position to exercise undue influence on a child’s life.

The CASA organization in King County is described on the internet in the following manner:

Family Law CASA Court Appointed Special Advocates) serves as the voice of children in court when their parents are involved in contested paternity, divorce, and third party custody cases. We work to ensure a safe, nurturing environment for children in high-risk custody cases in King County. The children we serve are from low-to-moderate-income homes, and more than half are six years old or younger. Their cases often involve allegations of domestic violence, substance abuse and mental illness.

Our mission is to recruit, screen, train, supervise and support the community volunteers who are appointed as CASAs. These special individuals thoroughly and objectively research the children’s family and home lives, then generate written reports to the court. These reports provide judges and commissioners with crucial information as they try to sort through allegations and decide on a custody arrangement that will be in the best interest of the child.

Family Law CASA began taking cases in the summer of 2003. The organization is assigned to approximately 100 cases per year, and has served more than 400 children since its inception. Our active volunteer currently consists of 168 fully trained CASAs.

The program manager of the dependency CASA in King County is Linda Katz and she can be reached at (206) 296-1120. This reporter wanted to find out if Ms. Katz knew about Terence Colyer’s past involvement in Marin County’s infamous FLEAs. When I called and asked Ms. Katz this question her response was, “We have the greatest faith in Terence Colyer. The rumors you are talking about were generated by disgruntled litigants and a bitter ex-wife.” So two things were very obvious: (1) CASA was indeed very aware of Colyer’s past and (2) it was apparent that CASA stood firmly behind Mr. Colyer.

Apparently so too, does DSHS, because CASA’s Colyer and DSHS are working toward the same goal, to sever all relationships between mother and the child. Not satisfied with removing the mother from the child’s life, these two entities are also seeking to never allow the child to know her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. These two taxpayer supported agencies have apparently determined that this little girl would be better off with the foster mother they have chosen for her. The foster mother is 44-years old Linda Gallez. She is a single woman who is unemployed and who takes the little girl to back-to-back day care facilities from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. five days a week. Ms. Gallez has a restraining order in place because she states she is stalked by a man who entered her home with a gun. While in this woman’s care the three- year-old child has endured a black eye and has arrived at a supervised visit with her mother with food up her nose. Ms. Gallez also has an infant boy entrusted to her by DSHS.

So intent is DSHS and CASA to remove the little girl from her mother that a termination of parental rights trial took place in early October before Judge Kessler in Washington. The first three days of the trial were monopolized by DSHS and CASA’s Terence Colyer and his attorney Andrew Sachs. Their legal arguments consumed the entire three days that the Judge Kessler had allotted for the trial and the mother and her attorney never got an opportunity to present their entire case. The case will continue today, October 20, 2008.

The abuse of this child has not gone unnoticed. Washington State Senator Pam Roach has reported on this case on her blog Pam Roach Reports since August 2008. Recently Linda Gallez, the foster mother and Terence Colyer, the CASA who sides with Ms. Gallez were featured on a blog entitled Click.

Following is the page about Terence Colyer featured on this site. Click.

So California’s FLEA has now moved to Maple Valley, Washington. He might have changed his residence but he has not changed his method of doing business. While he does not possess a license to practice law in the state of Washington, he still uses his legal expertise to control other people’s lives. Perhaps once you are once a blood sucking parasite, it is impossible to change.

Virginia McCullough © 10/20/08