Excerpts – Judge Cowan Quotes & Explanations

From two attorneys letters, dated December 16, 2020, on behalf of 1) Bradford Lund and Sandra Slaton; and 2) Mrs. Sherry Lund, Bradford Lund’s step-mother, to California Judicial Commission on Performance seeking removal of Judge David J. Cowan for violations of Judicial Canons of Ethics.

Read the full letters below.

INTRODUCTION

  • “One of the most basic protections our country has in preserving our democracy, is our confidence in the integrity of the judicial branch. The judicial system must be free in reality as well as in appearance, from prejudice, personal agenda, or conflict of interest. Indeed, there is nothing more important than preserving the integrity of the court system.”

  • “This request for the removal of a sitting judge for multiple violations of California’s Canons of Judicial Ethics is not made lightly, but with great reluctance. Nevertheless, in order to preserve the sanctity of the judiciary and to protect all who come before courts seeking justice based upon facts, we feel compelled to bring this judicial complaint for the removal of Judge Cowan.”

  • This matter stems from a probate action in which Mr. Lund, the grandson of Walt Disney, has been fighting to remove his hostile Trustees who have committed financial and fiduciary violations against him.

  • After these hostile Trustees conspired with estranged family members to initiate Arizona guardianship/conservatorship proceedings against Mr. Lund, which lasted over seven years, he was vindicated and found competent by the Arizona court.

  • A California probate case made a similar filing that Mr. Lund had sufficient mental capacity, finding that the Arizona case was a “parallel” case with the same basic issues before that court.

  • Yet Judge Cowan made multiple findings without a trial and contrary to the Arizona and California verdicts that Mr. Lund lacked mental capacity to receive his inheritance from his Grandfather Walt Disney through his mother’s trust.

  • This led Ms. Slaton, Mr. Lund’s attorney, in March and April 2019, to name Judge Cowan as a defendant in a federal civil rights case, alleging Judge Cowan under the US Civil Rights Act allowing state public officials to be used for violating Mr. Lund’s constitutional rights and the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

  • On November 12, 2020, as the attorneys letter to the Commission states, in part  retaliation against Mr. Lund’s counsel, Sandra Lund, for the filing of this federal civil rights case against him, Judge Cowan in an “Order to Show Cause” challenged Ms. Slaton’s right to continue to represent Mr. Lund as his counsel – even though at the same time Judge Cowan announced he was removing himself entirely from the Lund case.  This show of personal animus and retaliation is a violation of the Judicial Canons and, the attorneys write, in and of itself justify Judge Cowan’s removal.

  • As one of the most egregious examples of Judge Cowan’s willingness to make knowingly false statements against Mr. Lund’s mental capabilities occurred in open court, on the record, on June 25, 2019. Judge Cowan asserted that he wasn’t about to allow Mr. Lund to inherit his distributions from his grandfather Walt Disney though his mother’s trust because he “may” have Down Syndrome. In fact, Judge Cowan knew in his court public record about a professional genetic laboratory’s DNA test that precluded the possibility that Mr. Lund had down syndrome. But when Mr. Lund’s attorney, Ms. Slaton, reminded Judge Cowan of the DNA test which was a matter of public record in his court, and asked him to withdraw the false statement, Judge Cowan replied with one word:  “Denied.”

  • Another example of a knowing falsehood is that Judge Cowan accused Ms. Slaton’s husband of being responsible for taking the test and for being a possible material witness – both of which he knew was false – but made these statements in the November 12, 2020 “order” against Ms. Slaton. This demonstrate of personal animus, bias, and willfully false statements constituted violations of the state Judicial Canons and justified Judge Cowan’s removal.

  • Ms. Slaton, on behalf of her client, also made multiple statements in October 2020 asking Judge Cowan to recuse or remove himself from the case because of these instances of prejudice and bias against Mr. Cowan. He refused – but he also raised the fact of these requests for recusal in his November 12, 2020 “order” challenging Ms. Slaton’s right to continue to represent Mr. Lund – further evidence of impermissible retaliatory behavior by a judge that makes himself into an “adversary” and “embroils” himself personally in the litigation – clear violations of the Canons of Ethics and grounds for removal.

  • The attorney for Brad Lund’s step-mother, Sherry Lund -- Lauriann Wright -- wrote a separate letter asking for Judge Cowan’s, seeking Judge Wright’s removal from the bench because of his multiple false statements and personal attacks on her client, Mrs. Lund.  At one point in his November 12, 2020 “Order” he asserted that Mrs. Lund had “interests” in conflict with her son—making such statement, as Ms. Wright wrote in her letter, not only with no evidence at all to support it by violating the Judicial Canons for making a personal attack without even allowing Mrs. Lund a chance to defend herself in his courtroom. Ms. Wright,  20-year+ veteran in the California probate court system, also pointed out in the closing of her letter that Judge Cowan had shown unmistakable and impermissible signs of gender bias against Mrs. Lund in the way he characterized her and the words he chose to do so.  Ms. Write wrote in her separate letter to the Commission: ​​

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  • “It is not lost on me that my client Sherry Lund is a stepmother and that stepmothers are a female stereotype that are much-maligned in popular culture.  Match that up with a judicial officer that calls argument by female attorneys on the case “emotional” and “coy” and then makes detrimental, negative findings about my client who is a stepmother, without ever holding an evidentiary hearing, and one has to question whether justice has been served.  One has to further question whether this particular judicial officer is equipped to provide justice given his unconscious gender biases.  The probate court is a court which, day-in and day-out, resolves complex and messy family disputes over family wealth.  I am proud of the role I play in the probate court, advocating for my clients, and quite frankly, I am incredibly disheartened by what happened in this case.  Bias of any kind in a court such as the probate court annihilates the justice the court is there to deliver to everyone who appears before it – even stepmothers."

12/17/20
Letter to Commission on Judicial Performance - Brad Lund
12/16/20
Letter to Commission on Judicial Performance – Sherry Lund
12/16/20
Letter to Commission on Judicial Performance – Horne Slaton