Local judges and attorneys are taking the unusual step of holding a news conference today to defend a local jurist who has come under fire for her rulings in two child custody cases.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Nancy Wieben Stock has been targeted for recall for granting O.J. Simpson custody of his two youngest children, and for an unrelated 1991 decision to give Marcia Amsden-Kyle of Anaheim joint custody of her two young children even though the judge acknowledged the mother had emotional problems.
Last week, police said they believe Amsden-Kyle took her own life after killing her 7-year-old daughter, her 9-year-old son, and her boyfriend, Matthew Stephen Bailey, 28, of Anaheim.
The California Judges' Assn., the Orange County Bar Assn. and Orange County Superior Court officials plan to release transcripts from the Amsden-Kyle case to the media today to prove Wieben Stock acted properly.
Earlier this week, the bar association also adopted a resolution supporting a judge's ability to make independent decisions without fear of reprisal.
Wieben Stock could not be reached for comment Thursday.
But even as members of the local legal community continued to rally in her support Thursday, recall organizers said they are moving ahead with their efforts. A planning meeting is being held Monday evening at the Huntington Beach Central Library.
Tammy Bruce, president of the Women's Progress Alliance in Los Angeles, said response to the planned recall has been "overwhelming."
"Orange County is embracing this emphatically because [residents] know there are two dead kids out there," Bruce said. "We also embrace independence of the judiciary but that does not eliminate its accountability."
Many insist Wieben Stock acted appropriately, including the attorney who represented Amsden-Kyle's husband, Jeffrey Kyle, in their child custody case.
"In my opinion, it was not an inappropriate decision given the facts and circumstances before the court," attorney Gary S. Gorczyca said.
The Board of Directors of the Family Law section of the Orange County Bar Assn. also responded Thursday to the controversy over the Kyle custody case with a written statement.
"The Kyle transcript, which was obviously not reviewed by the critics, reveals a choice between granting custody to a mother employed part time or a father employed as a truck driver," the board wrote, adding that the judge's "decision was supported and recommended by a forensic psychologist."
In the Simpson case, Wieben Stock awarded Simpson full custody of his two youngest children in December, a decision widely expected in legal circles because experts said the law generally favors parents in such disputes.
Sydney Simpson, 11, and her brother Justin, 8, had been living in Dana Point with their maternal grandparents since Simpson was charged with the 1994 murders of their mother, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman.
Simpson was acquitted and sought to regain custody of his children. Earlier this week, he was found liable by a Santa Monica civil court jury for the two slayings and ordered to pay $8.5 million in compensatory damages. The jury is now considering punitive damages.
The grandparents, Lou and Juditha Brown, were granted visitation rights and are appealing the custody decision.