Page 27

so broad as to encompass any conduct by an officer occurring during his working hours … it is functional nature of public officer's conduct that establishes its 'official' character, and an act is 'official' if it is done in official capacity, rather than privately." People v. Norris (1985) 219 Cal.Rptr. 7, 40 Cal.3d 51, 706 P.2d 1141. In Norris, "the issue is whether defendant committed, or intended to commit, the crime of extortion as defined by section 518 when, after obtaining a gun, he ordered police officers who held him in custody to drive him to a safe haven and release him. We conclude that, although defendant committed a variety of other crimes, his demands neither constituted extortion nor reflected any intent to extort…" Id. From Norris, we can infer that a family law judge making child would probably be considered an official act within the meaning of Pen. C. § 518 and its definition of extortion if one parent's acts constitute a "wrongful use of fear" in a means similar to those examples given in Pen. C. § 519. Moreover, the financial benefits of increased or decreased child support resulting from the custody order would satisfy the "obtaining property" prong of Pen. C. § 518 in the alternative to the "official act" element of the crime. I think it would be an extremely interesting criminal appellate case if my hypothetical scenario of an extortion-like threat to involve CPS if custody of a child was not given under a stipulated order. If the judge is not being extorted, is it an extortion crime to threaten the other parent with agency action for child custody? Frankly, I think this kind of behavior in similar scenarios happens all the time since many family law litigants often think and act as if the 'ends justify the means' when their sacred cows, their money or their children, are involved and are at stake. In any event, prudent care should be used by family law litigants and their attorneys in using tactics that could expose them to criminal liability. Conclusion A reader might think 'Peterson is soft since he won't go all the way to help me get what I want' after reviewing this article. I don't think so a bit, and personally I would rather have an attorney advise me to not make a bad situation worse for myself on the chance I might not get caught, charged, and/or sanctioned. I have had times straight out had tell a client "NO"; "either report the crime/other malfeasance or don't and live with the consequences, but we are not going to threaten it to get you more dollars in the settlement." I even recently admonished one newly-admitted attorney not to make verbal threats to me concerning reporting some of my client's alleged activities to the state contractor's board. Client and attorneys need to understand that a violation of CRPC 5-100 or Penal Code section 518 is just not a place where they can go, despite the natural and sometimes frantic desire to get the best outcome possible. While the desire to tear the other's heart out, or to cause them risks to their financial or personal freedom, in the throes of divorce litigation may understandably be seductive, it is just another example of how family law litigants or rabid attack dog attorneys blow themselves up. Or, as the picture of Mr. Arnold's 1 year old Jack Russell 'Jasmine' being threatened by TV dogs above is intended to illustrate, some threats are simply illusory - but your family judge won't find them nearly as cute as he might this pup! Which I suppose is a blog for another dog - oops, I mean "day". Author: Michael C. Peterson, Esq.

20 | P a g e

Profile for The Fathers' Rights Movement

The Fathers' Rights Movement - May 2019, Issue No. 10  

Please enjoy our 10th issue of The Fathers' Rights Monthly, and help raise awareness for issues around shared parenting after divorce.

The Fathers' Rights Movement - May 2019, Issue No. 10  

Please enjoy our 10th issue of The Fathers' Rights Monthly, and help raise awareness for issues around shared parenting after divorce.

Profile for tfrm