Paralegal David Schoen and Family Lawyer Jennifer Abrams
Feb 11, 2020
Rob Lauer Political Reporter
Failed Assembly Candidate and Family Law paralegal, David Schoen, launched a new Political Action Committee (a PAC) called, Nevada Court Watchers, taking direct aim at the Veterans In Politics, led by U.S. Marine Veteran Steve Sanson who has been relentlessly pursuing corruption in the Family Court System for the past several years and is set to reshape the court in this year’s election. Many of the judges Sanson exposed as incompetent and/or corrupt are quietly retiring this year while others have drawn a real opponent. Schoen isn’t just some innocent third party do-gooder trying to educate voters about Family Court.
Schoen’s boss Jennifer Abrams, a family court lawyer, and Steve Sanson have been engaged in a lawsuit for the last couple of years. According to Sanson, it all started when he posted a video on YouTube from a Family Court hearing in which Abrams was front and center as the lawyer. Abrams sued Sanson for defamation, but Sanson won an Anti-Slapp motion and according to court records (see below). Sanson won a monitory judgment against Abrams in 2017. The case is pending on appeal.
Sanson said, his focus on Family Court corruption started back in 2014 when Family Court Judge Bill Gonzalez refused to honor federal law, the sailors and soldiers relief act, which required all court actions to be “stayed” while a member of the armed forces was deployed on official orders overseas. The judge ignored the law, and actually order soldiers who were deployed overseas in combat to appear in his courtroom. When they failed to appear, he ruled against them according to Sanson.
In addition, Sanson said he observed Family Court Judges violating federal law by using Veteran’s Disability Benefits to pay spousal support and other legal costs. And in fact, that sparked a new Nevada state law protecting Veteran’s Disability Benefits, authored by State Assemblyman Jim Wheeler.
Ever since then, Sanson’s group, Veterans In Politics has been “Waging War” on family court corruption. Sanson’s efforts have drawn over 350 folks to join his court observer program and sparked over a dozen investigations by the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline resulting in Judge Rena Hughes found guilty “JUNE 19: The Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline found that family court Judge Rena Hughes violated judicial code when she denied a mother’s due process rights by not giving her an opportunity to be heard during a hearing. She also gave the child’s father custody as a punitive measure against the mother.“
Sanson’s efforts have led to numerous Family Court Judges drawing real challengers in this election cycle including Judge Rena Hughes, Judge Vincent Ochoa, and Judge Charles Hoskins.
While Sanson was engaged in court observing, he started noticing several judges actually working part-time. Using the Freedom of Information Request to obtain Judges’ actual attendance records, Sanson found many judges working way less than 40 hours a week. His efforts were cited as a key reason why the State Legislature turned down a request from the judges for a 16% pay raise in 2017 and in the 2019 legislative sessions.
Sanson served in the first Iraq War in the U.S. Marines and now lives on his disability benefits. According to Sanson, he makes zero money from his court observer program or from Veterans In Politics.
Veterans In Politics have been endorsing Judges and other candidates for years. They, interview judges and candidates in public and record the interviews. With over 300,000 Veterans who call Nevada home, having such an endorsement can make or break a candidate. And that’s where Schoen’s one weak old group, Nevada Court Observers comes in. Schoen’s group seeks to undermine Veterans In Politics’ credibility and confuse voters, according to Sanson.
Schoen’s group hasn’t filed their contributions report, so their funding sources are still a mystery.
Sanson has advocated for real reforms in family court including a jury trial system in Family Court. It’s the only court where you can lose your house, your kids, your money and be jailed, all without the right to a jury trial.
Sanson is also seeking to make sure if a family court litigant is sent to jail they are entitled to a lawyer. He seeks total transparency in the system and accountability.
“David Schoen’s “new” group is an obvious effort to attack the messenger and protect a corrupt system,” said Sanson.