John Nazarian visits Judge Amy Pellman’s court

Well, not that the Stanley Mosk does not provide some great entertainment for people like me, I decided to toddle over to another place of interest yesterday. My place of desire was the Edmund D. Edelman Children’s Court, 201 Centre Plaza Drive, Monterey Park, California….very nice, $5.00 to park all day……( Mosk $20.00 )

Upon entering, the security is pleasant and there is always the ‘security guard’, looking like if he could wear a second ‘Sam Brown’, he would, so as to hang more ‘officious’ looking cop stuff from the belt….a real charmer. Well, the thing that hit me immediately was the comfort and tone that was built in to public areas in hopes of making kids a little more comfortable with this bureaucratic structure behemoth, The Superior Court, for the children and their parents.

As hard as Judge Nash and other have tried to make these courts open to the press and media, there is still an old guard who wants to keep everything secret. Small minded folks who are like beady eyed mice looking out from cracks in the wall of an old house….. My thought? When you are doing good things for kids and even the parents, does not putting a little light on it make it an even better thing? And we all know how good ‘secrets’ are kept in any government bureaucracy! LMAO. All you ever need is just one malcontent and the stories cascade like water over the falls. I can understand and see restrictions, if it is in the interest of a child and that the issue maybe so terribly sensitive that only the judge and staff and family be present. My opinion, and that of many others, it is also ‘old school’ attitudes exists for some to cover up what is often incompetence and who wants a member of the press to present to observe, listen, and report on that? Having a sense of openness is a good thing most of the time. As a bonafide member of the press and having all credentials, both local and federal, I get to go and listen to things that are certainly covered under the freedom of the press. Truth has to be the spearhead of any story, and there are laws to assure that is the case, surprise!

rainbowbearsMy first stop is The Honorable Judge Amy Pellman, a legendary bench officer and it would appear that legend is still a good word for one of the hardest working bench officers in the state. Judge Pellman has always had children in her focus, from the beginning as a lawyer and now today as a sitting Superior Court Judge in ‘children’s court’. My initial contact upon entering is with a deputy who asks, ‘Who are you’. I tell him that I am a member of the press and I am observing today. He makes Judge Pellman aware of my presence and I am seated on the one bench along a wall, a nice hard, wooden bench, not a place that does not remind you constantly that it is not a place of comfort, the bench. I can see a little stuffed animal on the front of Judge Pellman’s bench. There are dozens and dozens of stuffed rainbow bears and little toy sets, coloring books and lollipops sitting on a big table as you enter the courtroom. This is really cool. The back wall above where I am seated has a cute little American Indian baby cradle and ‘words’. There are photos of American Indians (more on that later). The court is bright and it is warm and inviting. Soon a group of children arrive and all of the kids are greeted by Judge Amy! Each child is greeted with hello and by their first names, they giggle and talk to ‘Judge Amy’ and answer her questions with such honesty and integrity that it is almost joyful. A judge, asking questions and someone is answering honestly! Won’t see this at the Mosk! Well, not very often anyways, unless a judge is talking to a kid! We all know the adult drill over at the ‘Palace of Perjury’.

toys and bearsJudge Pellman is warm and friendly and is interacting with the kids and the kids are loving her. You can see it and you can hear it. Everyone is smiling and the mood is serious but totally kid friendly, for now…… The kids are playing with toys and interacting with Judge Amy, this is incredible! Judge Amy is talking and the kids are telling her about things at home and at school, nice! At one point the Honorable Judge Pellman asks that the children take their toys and stuffed bears and go wait outside so that she can now ‘talk’ to ‘mom and dad’. The kids say bye and are escorted out to wait for their parents. It is now the parents turn to sit before Judge Pellman……’OYE!’ The clouds begin to form, blue skies and sunny smiles are moving to another place. Judge Pellman asks dad, ‘do you help with your child’s science projects?’ through a spanish translator. “No”, is the answer and it is stated, what seems frankly…..not the right answer. The child told Judge Amy just moments ago that they got an ‘F’ in science and was having problems with ‘projects’, the only word that comes to mind is “OYE”. Mom’s lawyer is trying to convince the judge that mom is doing great in her sobriety and needs to get her client out from under the control of the court. Judge Pellman smiles, as only she can and asks, “When was the last time mom fell off the wagon, a “relapse?”. Mom’s lawyer states, “November 2013”. I reach for my calendar, that is only a few months ago!!!! This lawyer was funny, not that she was trying to be, and I wondered if she had maybe wanted to warm Judge Pellman up for that answer? A great deliver, madam counselor, none the less. Well again, Judge Pellman, though smiling, looks annoyed at mom’s counsel and makes it clear this case is staying right under her watchful eye. It was very clear, and it was even clearer that this was the right decision, Judge Pellman will remain the guiding light in this families life.

IMG951711This particular courtroom at one time was that of Judge John L. Henning. Judge Henning was the go to guy for adoptions and over the years has made thousands and thousands of families happy as he presided over the finalization of the adoption process. That is now the duty of Judge Amy Pellman. Judge Pellman is gong to fill some big shoes in that respect and no one should question if is she is ready, she was born ready.



welcomeI mentioned the ‘words’ in the early part of this article and those words are American Indian words for “welcome”. Judge Pellman’s court is the court that all issues concerning the children of American Indians will be addressed. It is about time someone realized Judge Pellman was the one to watch over and rule on the children and issues concerning a very important group of people within our community, American Indians. This is tough, this is serious and this is important. American Indians have rights and customs that are not to be taken lightly. Judge Pellman’s court makes it clear from the moment you walk in that this is serious and the American Indians and their children who stand before Judge Pellman will be taken care of within the laws of the United States and within the traditions of the American Indian culture. It is clear these people are welcome and will be respected. I am going to list just a few of these tribes, Apache, Blackfeet, Cherokee, Chumash, Gabrielino, Ho-Chunk, Hopi, Kiowa, Lakota, Navajo, Tohono O’Dham, Cheyenne, Seminole, Choctaw, Ojibway, Seneca, Crow and Juaneno Band of Mission Indians. The immediate word that comes to mind is impressive, and these tribes are very fortunate to have Judge Amy Pellman sitting and listening, these tribes could not be in better hands.

Note: It is always nice to see an old friend, Karin Collins, Lawyer, from the Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles in court this day. It was really nice to see Karin and doing what she does best, helping kids. The total visit to dependency court was just a total positive experience, and a very special thanks to Judge Amy Pellman and her wonderful staff for making me feel as comfortable as possible………not so much, that bench!

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By John Nazarian
©Straight Talk with John J. Nazarian, Private Investigator
March 16, 2014
All Rights Reserved, do not reproduce in whole or in part without the express written consent of the author

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