The Judicial Conduct Commission no doubt receives many complaints from divorcing spouses who believe they've gotten a raw deal. So, why would this one be any different? Read the letter issued by the Commission.
The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct did something about it. In case the image of the document is too small to read, here's what it says:
The complainant alleged that a superior court commissioner made erroneous decisions and improperly considered political affiliations in resolving divorce and custody issues. The commission reviewed the complaint and the response and decided to issue a private warning to the commissioner. By taking certain actions, the commissioner appeared to have a personal interest in the case which gave the impression that the court was biased. Rule 1.2 requires a judge to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.According to the complaint, at the first hearing, just days before the 2010 general election, Maxwell told attorneys for both Schaffer and Patterson, in her chambers, that she is a Democrat and was concerned that the litigation would jeopardize Patterson's re-election bid. By the way, Schaffer is no longer represented by that attorney.
At temporary orders hearings, generally child support orders are issued. Maxwell delayed more than two months before issuing support orders. Maxwell also dismissed the Order of Protection that had been issued against Patterson.
Most people, I suspect, who have been through divorce in Arizona know that when a woman, in a divorce petition, details domestic violence incidents she is generally given the benefit of the doubt. Maxwell apparently gave Patterson the benefit of something in this situation.
Is the Commission's "private warning" a strong rebuke? Even though the letter states that the Commission's order may not be used to disqualify the judge, Commissioner Maxwell today recused herself from this case.
It's now late March 2011 and there is still no evidence that Patterson is complying with support orders issued in January.
It's time for Daniel Patterson to man up and take care of his financial obligations to his family.
And if he doesn't do so -- STAT -- Democrats in Arizona should do something (political) about it.
Apparently, Patterson has made a child support payment for March 2011. I understand he is still in arrears for two months. Schaffer's unemployment benefits ran out some time ago. For Patterson to be two months in arrears (not to mention the two months that he was allowed to skip when Commissioner Maxwell just didn't issue the child support order), it's really still a very big problem.