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Kevin Kinsella, well-known venture capitalist, this week (July 11) filed a suit in federal court against Judith McConnell, administrative presiding justice of the Fourth District Court of Appeal for California. Kinsella complains that McConnell deprived him of his rights under the Constitution.

About four years ago, Kinsella and his wife began divorce proceedings. They selected an arbitration organization named JAMS (formerly Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services) and one of its arbitrators, Sheila Prell Sonenshine, who had spent almost two decades as a superior court and court of appeal judge.

Judith McConnell

Judith McConnell

"She appeared to have a ton of business experience," says Kinsella, who was impressed with her purported credentials in the private equity business.

"She made a bizarre ruling indicating she had no understanding of the venture capital business," says Kinsella. He researched her background and found that she boasted of running a private equity fund for women only. He questioned that, arguing that such a fund for Caucasians only, say, would be unacceptable, and then found that the business was to be run by a convicted felon, but no money was ever raised for it.

Sonenshine resigned from the case, but Kinsella was not through. He discovered that the website for the Fourth District Court of Appeal could be used to access the website of JAMS but no other arbitration service. The JAMS arbitrators got rave reviews, he says. He figures that was a gross conflict of interest. He went to court against JAMS and Sonenshine for violating the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act.

JAMS and Sonenshine used a legal maneuver to block Kinsella's suit. A trial court agreed with Kinsella that this was an attempt to intimidate and silence critics. The trial court found that JAMS' website was purely garden-variety advertising. JAMS and Sonenshine filed a writ to overturn Kinsella's trial court victory. Kinsella moved to disqualify the Fourth District Court of Appeal in the matter because of the alleged conflicts. McConnell permitted the appellate court to sit in judgment of the matter when its own official website was publishing laudatory tributes to JAMS and Sonenshine.

Kinsella, filing this week's suit, says he has been deprived of his constitutional right to an impartial tribunal. The divorce has already settled.

I was not able to reach McConnell, her assistant, or the clerk of the court.

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MrsKramer July 15, 2016 @ 10:24 p.m.

Justice Judith McConnell is bad news. In November 2015, I filed a complaint against her with the USDOJ for her concealment of falsified court documents in Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation. For six years, the California Commission on Judicial Performance (CJP) has had the clear and convincing evidence of her case-fixing. When I first complained to them in 2010, she was chairwoman of the CJP.

Cover letter to my USDOJ complaint against McConnell. https://katysexposure.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/usdoj-letter-with-exhibits.pdf


SportsFan0000 July 16, 2016 @ 12:31 a.m.

With all due respect Mrs Kramer, as my grandfather used to tell me, you need to pick and choose your battles wisely. You appear to be an intelligent individual. However, you seem to be going about your battles entirely the wrong way. Do some research as to better ways to fight your battles. Do not "spin your wheels" on unwinnable battles. If your core issue of "veritox theory" has any merit(not saying it does or it doesn't,..I do not know), you need to figure out a much better way to approach this rather than just attacking everyone in sight.


Don Bauder July 16, 2016 @ 7:34 a.m.

SportsFan0000: Your grandfather was very wise. However, I don't have enough information to make a pronouncement yea or nay on Mrs. Kramer's experience. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder July 16, 2016 @ 7:29 a.m.

MrsKramer: McConnell as administrative presiding justice is in a job that often generates hostility. When she makes decisions on cases, she knows she can be stepping into a bee hive. One side may possibly scream. In this case, Kinsella appears to have a good argument. Best, Don Bauder


Jimgee July 17, 2016 @ 10:14 a.m.

Don, If memory serves, Judge McConnell ruled that changes made to the Padres' ballpark initiative (Prop C?) after the voters approved it were not substantial enough to require a new vote. Terrible decision.


Don Bauder July 20, 2016 @ 7:15 a.m.

Jimgee: Yes, she made a terrible decision in one of the ballpark suits. That's why she got promoted to the appellate level. Best, Don Bauder


SportsFan0000 July 16, 2016 @ 12:38 a.m.

Had some experience with JAMS in a matter in N. California. I was not impressed at all. The Retired judge was gracious at getting coffee etc. However, She did not move the Parties in the direction of a compromise and a settlement. She appeared to take the side of the parties that were quite obviously in the wrong. It was a complete waste of thousands of dollars. I would not recommend JAMS to any business associates and/or friends.


Don Bauder July 16, 2016 @ 7:38 a.m.

SportsFan0000: That is disappointing. These arbitrators make plenty of money -- $500 an hour or more. They should not be permitted to stall cases to fatten their pay. (Admittedly, you did not suggest this happened.) Best, Don Bauder


SportsFan0000 July 16, 2016 @ 1:13 p.m.

San Francisco is a notoriously expensive place to be involved in any kind of legal dispute. The prices are exponentially higher for everything there. The Parties are subsidizing the very high cost of living and doing business in SF. Some of the Jams Offices like San Francisco charge a minimum flat rate for a certain number of minimum hours required...(It can ring up to thousands of dollars whether you use 5 minutes or 2-4 hours that may be paid by one side or split among the parties). If you add Attorneys fees, if the Parties bring Attorneys, (though not required, it may be advisable in more complicated cases), travel and lodging etc...It can add up to the cost of a European vacation.. And, that is the cheaper way to solve disputes/lawsuits in San Francisco..If you decide to go to trial then it can be much more expensive.


Don Bauder July 16, 2016 @ 1:39 p.m.

SportsFan0000: Yes, the cost of living in San Francisco and Silicon Valley is the highest in the nation. You pay too much for just about everything. However, salaries are much higher, too. In San Diego, the cost of living is 45 percent higher than the nation;s, but incomes are only 20 percent higher. Best, Don Bauder


nuttyworld July 18, 2016 @ 7:23 a.m.

ADR private judges can possibly be hired as arbitrators, judges, discovery masters, mediators - in other words, a broad range of roles requiring specialized talents. Whatever "reputation" brought an ADR retired judge or justice to that second career, he or she may have collected high marks in legal knowledge, temperament, and an understanding of what causes and/or settles disputes. Or, maybe not.

Many excellent jurists make lousy mediators, but maybe good arbitrators. There is no "accepted" training that is required of retired jurists to earn upwards of $1 million doing things they may be ill-suited to do. All lawyers (who have been practicing more than 5 years) know that mediation is often the location of brow-beating and intimidation to get a case settled, which for ADR professionals are like notches in the cowboy's belt. Mediators know where their repeat business comes from.

Some cater to those who are looking for a mediated resolution that benefits all parties, and they - thankfully - have a reputation for conscionable dealings. Others are part of a game that plays out in the mediation, one that may totally escape the attention of a key participant.

Under the law in almost every state, the mediation is a "no holds barred" event, where tight and broad immunity protects every participant from their lies, badgering, and comments - including such behaviors from the mediators or even from the litigant's own lawyers. The California Supreme Court decided a case of huge importance in January 2011. In that case, California's highest court declared, much to the celebration of ADR professionals and lawyers who like to settle cases, that nothing short of a crime can justify allow litigants to complain about whatever is done to them in connection with a mediation. The bottom line of that legal reality is that whatever the "professionals" do in or at the mediation is okay, even if it amounts to taking a wrongful advantage of a litigant (who is supposed to be the reason for the litigation and the mediation). The litigant, more often than not, gets the short end of the mediation stick.

The litigant also gets the short end of every stick inside the legal/judicial system because here's the truth: The legal system is almost always about money, and the litigants are the pawns of that money game. Although the law is what law school is all about, feeding everyone at the legal system's trough is what litigation is all about. As we learned from Watergate, "Follow the money." As long as that is true about our legal system, the voices demanding justice according to the law are few and far between.

It will be interesting to see what the appellate court does with Mr. Kinsella's state court writ in light of the federal court complaint. Hopefully, the outcome of JAMS' and Sonenshine's writ will be according to the law. That is the only thing, and the right thing, that should matter when it comes to the lawsuit against JAMS and Sonenshine.


Don Bauder July 20, 2016 @ 7:20 a.m.

nuttyworld: Arbitration/mediation is often a bad decision. Be careful signing a document that binds you to arbitration and in theory bans you from suing. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder July 16, 2016 @ 7:40 a.m.

Ell Guapo: JAMS and the Fourth District should explain why, in effect, a highly-biased ad for JAMS can be accessed on Fourth District website. Best, Don Bauder


Visduh July 16, 2016 @ 11:16 a.m.

That judge has a long record of faulty rulings and embarrassment. I'd have thought she was long retired from the bench, but now she's at the appellate level. Don, you know that San Diego has had some truly bad judges, and that the establishment seems to get its way in most court cases. McConnell is one of those bad judges.


Don Bauder July 16, 2016 @ 1:41 p.m.

Visduh: I do know that McConnell has some enemies who think she is a very bad judge. I don't have enough information to make a judgment. Best, Don Bauder


SportsFan0000 July 18, 2016 @ 4:31 p.m.

Don, Many San Diego Judges tend to be very conservative and to favor large corporations (defendants) against plaintiffs that have been wronged...Consumers, smaller business, individuals etc..It is well known that Plaintiffs in major litigation actions get more respect from Judges in LA or SF...even though it is expensive to litigate there (ie if you want to spend the money and/or if the Plaintiffs Attorneys see the possibility of a big payday then they sometimes "front" the litigation fees, but take 1/3 or more of your judgment or settlement (ouch?!). Attorneys fees are supposed to be negotiable, but the better litigators may or may not negotiate much since their caseloads are usually pretty full(depends if they see your case as a "pot of gold" for themselves and their firm also).


Milo July 18, 2016 @ 7:07 p.m.

If you think a 1/3 contingency fee is painful for plaintiffs, or "ouch" as you wrote, try being a plaintiffs' attorney investing $100,000 of your time, and perhaps $50,000 in costs such as filing fees, depositions, and expert witness fees, and at the end of the day lose the case because of some rogue judge or jury.

If you think a 1/3 contingency is too much, then pay for the attorneys' fees as you go, even if you have to borrow money from a friend or relative, either of whom I am sure you can sell them on your dead bang winner of a case. Then you won't have to split any verdict with an attorney.


Don Bauder July 20, 2016 @ 2:27 p.m.

Milo: You can get in trouble getting investors to put money behind a case on the theory that he or she will win big when the suit is won. Maybe it won't be won. And maybe you will get a judgment that is worthless. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder July 20, 2016 @ 7:22 a.m.

SportsFan0000: Oh yes. Many San Diego judges are blindly pro-business, and blindly pro-downtown establishment. That was shown in the ballpark suits. Best, Don Bauder


MrsKramer July 16, 2016 @ 2:46 p.m.

Don, thanks for saying people shouldn't judge w/o knowing the subject. Respectfully, you're incorrect, SF, that I haven't picked my battles wisely.

I picked one to stop a scientific fraud in environmental medicine that is harming thousands. I was rewarded with McConnell's 4th/1st concealing falsified court documents in Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation (SLAPP) to keep the fraud going.

She has to be prosecuted for me to win this battle. I don't have the finances of Mr. Kinsela to file a civil suit. That doesn't change that her unrepentant concealment of back-dated court docs in SLAPP is a felony under CA Penal Code 134; or that her felony court-doc-concealment continues to harm thousands.

No one from CA to DC seems to want to prosecute her. Many attys seem to fear her retaliation. I've been told many times of attys who like to help, but have families to feed.

I am doing the best I can with no legal counsel and no sunlight from the media on the SLAPP-fixing. They call me "Woman with Stones" http://survivingmold.createsend1.com/t/ViewEmail/r/D3B22E5665F6C9302540EF23F30FEDED/3871C7EA078D272F3D3F7F9A22A6E02E

I think Mr. Kinsela probably has a strong case for his rights being violated based on my superior knowledge that they use the 4th/1st to retaliate and silence critiques of ethics problems in the local courts.(Mine's not the only one)

Also, McConnell has been dancing close to the flames of JAMS/felons for decades. If you know the history of the SD Presiding Judge Michael Greer RICO matter from the 90's, you would know what I mean. Judy was Asst PJ of the Superior Court at the time. She submitted an affidavit to the Comm on Judicial Performance (CJP) on behalf of one of the later convicted judges.

Judge Malkis, Adams and Atty Frega went to jail. Greer turned states evidence to avoid jail. He went to work for JAMS. McConnell was appointed to the 4th/1st. It's rumored she was FBI investigated in the Greer matter.(See Depak Chopra's attorney's accusations circa 2000) She became CJP Chair.

So unless you can explain why I have: 1. an unvacated-void-on-its-face-back-dated judgment that concealed I was a trial prevailing party; and 2. a back-dated lien which states an entry of judgment date that is not possible to have occurred; and 3. repeated denials from the 4th/1st to recall/rescind their 2010 remittitur so those fraudulent docs can be vacated -- then please don't judge me as not wisely picking battles.

To understand how the greater fraud continues by Judy McConnell's unclean hands; watch this presentation I gave at conference last Nov. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJc5bKVUZ9k

I scored against the fraud last year -- but it's not enough to shut it down completely w/o McConnell being prosecuted for case-fixing SLAPP to keep it going.


Don Bauder July 20, 2016 @ 7:25 a.m.

MrsKramer: Yes, many lawyers are afraid to take on the legal system, lest they be punished in subsequent suits for other clients. Best, Don Bauder


Milo July 16, 2016 @ 7:03 p.m.

Let me see if I have this right.

A former California Superior Court judge and Court of Appeal justice, Sheila Sonenshine, is a defendant, along with her current employer JAMS, in a false advertising lawsuit for allegedly lying to potential customers about her qualifications. Sonenshine’s case is currently under appeal before current Court of Appeal Justice Judith McConnell after Sonenshine and JAMS lost at the trial court.

McConnell, as the Presiding Justice of this Court of Appeal, not only allowed “laudatory tributes to JAMS and Sonenshine” to be published on the court’s official website, but she then refused to disqualify herself or this Court of Appeal from hearing Sonenshine’s appeal despite what appears to be an obvious, albeit alleged, conflict.

If I got this right, this reads like the local version of the Hillary Clinton/Loretta Lynch sisterhood, wherein the laws only apply to the little people.


Don Bauder July 17, 2016 @ 7:44 a.m.

Milo: The suit written up here is against McConnell, not Sonenshine and JAMS. The suit alleges that JAMS is getting, essentially, advertising on the Fourth District's website, and Sonenshine made incompetent rulings.

Kinsella and JAMS/Sonenshine have been involved in