Many women unhappy with 3rd District Court Judge David Young gathered Wednesday to discuss the way he handled their cases and their plans for pursuing a formal complaint.
"I would like to have my complaint into the Judicial Conduct Commission in the next two weeks," said Alicia Larson, a Park City woman unhappy with the way Young handled a custody hearing for her three children.Several other complaints are being prepared, she said. "There are going to be a lot of them. Just from last night's meeting, we had four new calls come in from women who want to file complaints."
Young declined to comment on the complaints. Presiding 3rd District Judge Michael Murphy said he has received no formal complaint against Young in the past.
Larson and other Park City women unhappy with Young are obtaining court transcripts from several of his cases and assisting other women involved and preparing complaints.
Young ruled that if Larson left Summit County the custody of her children would automatically go to her husband without further hearing.
Young made the ruling because he worried that Larson's children would not get proper religious training if she went ahead with plans to move to Oregon.
"The move to Corvallis is not compatabile with the relgious training that has been provided to the children," he ruled.
"I don't think this has anything to do with religion," Larson said. "It was personally directed at me. He refused to hear relevant testimony," she said. "And he refused to hear my testimony."
Many other women who have appeared before Young also believe they were treated unjustly because they are women. The National Organization of Women's local chapter is providing the women with publicity and assisting them in preparing the complaints, Larson said.
NOW isn't the only group involved. When Larson appealed Young's ruling on her children's custody to the Court of Appeals, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a friend-of-the-court brief siding with Larson.
Mary Coelho, also of Park City, said she experienced similar bias in Young's courtroom. She said he mistreats, intimidates and ignores the testimony of women, including attorneys, litigants and expert witnesses.
"This isn't just a women's issue, it is fairness issue," she said.
Coelho said in her case, Young denied every objection her attorney made while granting every objection by the opposing attorney.
"He makes his rulings ignoring one whole side of the story," she said.
Larson also said Young calls women in his courtroom derogatory names including "wacko," "dog in a manger" and "one light bulb short."
LuJuana Baker, South Jordan, said Young continually cut off her testimony during her divorce proceedings, and he cited a biblical story in court. Baker said her ex-husband now uses the fact he can get what he wants in Young's courtroom to intimidate her.
Several other women related similar experiences in Young's courtroom.