Submitted by Crescent City-Del Norte County Taxpayer’s Association – April 29, 2019 – A formal complaint was mailed into the Commission on Judicial Performance concerning former Superior Court Judge William Follett now retired:
Re: Superior Court Judge William Follett (retired); $1.5 million dollar judicial fraud; knowing and willful renewal of a judgment to a deceased person with no named estate, assignee, beneficiary, successor in interest or otherwise; numerous and distinct due process deprivations instigated by Judge Follett in the unlawful protection of an ex-law partner and a fraudulently-obtained default judgment and renewal of judgment; refusal to accept disqualification where a clear conflict of interest is shown to exist.
At Mr. David Egan’s request, the Crescent City/Del Norte County Taxpayers Association reviewed the Court Record and discovered a judicial fraud perpetrated against Mr. Egan by Judge William Follett, in conspiracy with his prior partner in a law firm, attorney Robert Cochran. Judge Follett retired as of December 31, 2018 but announced his intention to apply for a position as a retired judge. The Taxpayers Association submits this Complaint on behalf of Mr. David Egan and requests this honorable commission make a recommendation against the hiring of Judge William Follett as a retired judge.
The Taxpayers Association fully understands the Commission does not review judicial error. The factual court proceedings and court records presented herein are not for review of judicial error. Rather, the Court Record of this case is presented for the sole purpose of demonstrating the particular acts of judicial fraud and collusion that were perpetrated between a (now) retired judge and his ex-partner in a law firm, made possible only by numerous and distinct deprivations of Mr. Egan’s protected due process rights, demonstrating acts of moral turpitude for personal gain.
The Court Record in this action shows that Judge William Follett colluded with his prior partner in a law firm in obtaining a default judgment by numerous fraudulent means, and without notice to Mr. Egan that a default judgment was taken against him. In particular, three (3) documents were filed in this action that are required by law to have a copy served on Mr. Egan. The Court Record shows no copies of the three documents were served and the default judgment taken against Mr. Egan was without any form of notice to Mr. Egan.
When Mr. Egan discovered the judgment ten years later (service of 10 year renewal of judgment), Mr. Egan discovered the default judgment was obtained by fraud. Mr. Egan immediately sought to disqualify Judge Follett and vacate the judgment. Judge Follett refused disqualification, and maneuvered unlawfully to deprive Mr. Egan’s right to have a neutral judge determine the merits of disqualification, and thereafter acted unlawfully to protect his prior partner in a law firm, and to protect the fraudulently-obtained default judgment, by numerous deprivations of Mr. Egan’s protected due process rights shown in detail below.
However, it was not until Mr. Egan filed his “Motion To Vacate” in 2018 that he discovered that Judge Follett would act in conspiracy with his ex-partner in a string of wholly unlawful acts and due process obstructions for the purpose of protecting his ex-partner and the fraudulently-obtained judgment.
Ultimately, Judge Follett knowingly and unlawfully protected a judgment awarded to a deceased person in which no estate, beneficiary, executor, successor in interest or otherwise is named. The only living person currently named on the judgment who may attempt to collect on the $1.5 million dollar judgment is Judge Follett’s prior partner in a law firm, attorney Robert Cochran. Attorney Cochran manipulated the records so that he is the only person entitled to collect on the judgment; an illegal status on the part of Attorney Cochran that Judge Follett acted to protect.
Facts Clearly Shown By The Court Record
- This case was filed in 2006 by attorney Robert Cochran for his client, plaintiff Martin Stoll, entitled Stoll v. Egan, CVUJ 06-1451 (Case Docket, attached as Exhibit “A”; also Complaint, attached as Exhibit “B”).
- The plaintiff’s attorney, Robert Cochran, was formerly a partner with the judge for the case, Judge Follett, in the former law firm of Schafer, Follett and Cochran.
- Plaintiff Martin Stoll died during the pendency of the action. The Court named executor Vernon Ward to continue the suit (Amended Complaint, attached as Exhibit “C”, the operative complaint). In the complaints, the plaintiffs clearly acknowledge the existence of a power of attorney and allege no withdrawal of the power of attorney.
- Mr. Egan, as holder of full power of attorney for Martin Stoll, relied on a legal opinion advising judgment wasn’t legally feasible because of the power of attorney held by Mr. Egan (Affidavit of David Egan, attached as Exhibit “D”). At no time did plaintiff Martin Stoll allege the withdraw of the power of attorney, which remains in full force today.
- Mr. Egan declined to file an answer and default was thereafter entered. Mr. Egan justifiably relied that if somehow a default judgment was taken, he would be notified in accordance with required legal procedures and entitled to challenge any such judgment.
- A review of the Court Record by the Taxpayers Association reveals the following:
- Judge Follett and attorney Cochran were the sole judge and attorney for the case.
- The probate file for the Estate of Martin Stoll shows Judge Follett and attorney Cochran were also the sole judge and attorney for the related probate case (Probate Case Docket, attached as Exhibit “E”).
- Attorney Cochran has never been appointed by a court of law to represent the deceased plaintiff in this case.
- The court set a prove-up hearing date in 2008. The Court Record shows no notice was served on Mr. Egan of the hearing.
- At the hearing, Judge Follett expressed concerns over the manner of service of summons and continued the hearing. The Court Record shows no notice of a continued hearing date was served on Mr. Egan.
- Attorney Cochran filed a supplemental Declaration Of Samuel Cochran (Attorney Cochran’s son, attached as Exhibit “F”). The Court Record shows the new declaration was never served on Mr. Egan.
- In 2008, at the continued hearing, Judge William Follett issued a default judgment against David Egan for $768,632.43 in Stoll v. Egan, CVUJ 06-1451. The judgment is awarded to the executor Vernon Ward although Mr. Ward is not a beneficiary or assignee (Default Judgment p. 1:26, attached as Exhibit “G”). The judgment is not awarded to the estate of Martin Stoll. The Court Record shows neither the Default Judgment nor Entry of Judgment was ever served on Mr. Egan.
- The Court Record shows the first notice served on Mr. Egan that a judgment was taken against him was ten years later, when served with an “APPLICATION FOR AND RENEWAL OF JUDGMENT” (hereafter “Application”) which was already granted by Judge Follett in March 2018 (attached Exhibit “H”).
- The Application represents Martin Stoll as a ‘live’ applicant despite Martin Stoll’s death over 11 years earlier. The only ‘live’ person on the application is attorney Robert Cochran.
- The Court Record shows Mr. Egan immediately sought to disqualify Judge Follett based on his prior partnership with plaintiff attorney Robert Cochran. See attached Exhibit “I”. Most importantly, in his “Statement of Disqualification”, Mr. Egan attested he could not receive a fair outcome based on a history and Mr. Egan’s knowledge from other cases.
- In response, Judge Follett filed a “Verified Answer Of Judge William H. Follett To Challenge For Cause”. However, Judge Follett circumvented the mandatory process of having a third-party judge determine whether a conflict exists. In particular, Judge Follett filed a lengthy opposition yet also claimed he was not served with the Statement(see attached Exhibit “J”). Based on this ground, the neutral third party judge declined to determine whether a conflict appeared and only addressed the method of service (also Exhibit “J”). Further, Judge Follett’s refusal to be disqualified is arbitrary as it comes despite numerous prior occasions when Judge Follett accepted disqualification on the same grounds in other cases.
- The Court Record shows that on or about April 10, 2018, Mr. Egan filed a “Motion To Vacate”. The motion is based on the following jurisdictional grounds:
(a) The Amended Complaint (the operative complaint in this case) contains no demand for damages, no demand for a specific dollar amount, and no statement of damages. Nor do any of the purported causes allege any injury resulted from the acts alleged. The Court awarded damages in the amount of $768,632.43. The judgment is accordingly void.
(b) The Court Record shows that, prior to the “Application For And Renewal Of Judgment” served March 7, 2018, the defendant was never served with notice of any document that would place Defendant on notice, constructive or otherwise, that a judgment was taken against him. Accordingly, the lack of prior notice deprived Defendant of the due process right to challenge the judgment at an earlier date.
(c) Plaintiff Martin Stoll died during the pendency of this case. The application for renewal of judgment names Martin Stoll as creditor. The Court Record shows no substitute for Martin Stoll is named as representative, successor in interest, or assignee to the judgment. The application and renewal of judgment are accordingly void.
See “Motion To Vacate”, attached as Exhibit “K”
- Attorney Robert Cochran filed a response without citation of law and without legal argument. Inadvertently, attorney Cochran admitted that, despite his performing a diligent search, no beneficiary could be found.
- At the 2018 hearing on Mr. Egan’s “Motion To Vacate”, Mr. Egan discovered through a string of due process deprivations that Judge Follett was acting in conspiracy with Attorney Cochran to both protect his ex-law partner and the fraudulently-obtained default judgment. In particular, the Court Record (Court Transcript of the hearing, attached hereto as Exhibit “L”),shows that at the hearing:
(1) Judge Follett admitted he performed all of attorney Cochran’s legal research for him,
(2) Judge Follett made all arguments sua sponte on attorney Cochran’s behalf,
(3) Judge Follett raised the arguments for the first time at the hearing itself, orally,
(4) Judge Follett ruled in favor of his own arguments at the hearing itself, and
(5) Judge Follett provided no opportunity to Mr. Egan to oppose the Court’s sua sponte legal contentions.
See attached Exhibit “L”, hearing transcript; also see Exhibit “M”, Affidavit of Donna Westfall, who was present at the hearing.
- As shown by the transcript, throughout the hearing, attorney Cochran raised no argument himself and remained silent on the matters.
- Regarding the granting of a renewal of judgment to a deceased person (Mr. Egan’s “Motion To Vacate” ground No. 3, Exhibit “K”p.2), Judge Follett and attorney Cochran both remain absolutely silent on this matter; neither attorney Cochran nor Judge Follett has ever addressed this ground, neither by brief nor at the hearing.
- Judge Follett summarily denied Mr. Egan’s motion to vacate, thereby depriving Mr. Egan of his due process right to a judicial ruling as to how a judgment can possibly be awarded to a deceased person. The order denying motion was never reduced to writing.
- List of Separate Due Process Deprivations by Judge Follett
- Right to notice that a default judgment was taken against him.
- Right to a third party judge determining whether a conflict exists.
- Right to a judicial ruling regarding a deceased person on the Application For Renewal.
- Right to prior notice of the trial court’s sua spontelegal arguments.
- Right of opportunity to oppose or object to the trial court’s sua spontelegal arguments.
Background Facts / Court Record
- In their further review of the Court Record, the Taxpayers Association discovered the following:
- Neither the Complaint nor Amended Complaint (the operative complaint in this case) include any request for damages, nor demand for a specific dollar amount, nor statement of damages, nor an allegation that the plaintiff was damaged directly or proximately; neither in the body of the Complaints nor in the Prayers (see Exhibit “C”). Nor do any of the purported causes allege any injury resulted from the acts alleged.
- The Court Record shows no notice to Mr. Egan of a prove-up hearing.
- The Court Record shows “Notice Of Entry Of Judgment”, although entered, was never served as required by law. The Court Record is devoid of any indication that Claimant was ever placed on notice that any form of judgment had been taken against him prior to being served with the ten year application for renewal.
- The plaintiff, Martin Stoll, died in 2007 during the pendency of the action. Mr. Cochran, as attorney for Martin Stoll, was fully aware that his client Martin Stoll died in 2007 because he was also the sole probate attorney for The Estate of Martin Stoll.
- The Court Record shows judgment renewal applicant Martin Stoll is represented as a live person in the (ten year) Application For Renewal. No estate, beneficiary, representative or otherwise is named or appointed by the Court as the applicant for renewal (Exhibit “H”).
- Judge Follett and Attorney Cochran were given ample opportunity to offer some sort of explanation for these acts in response to Claimant’s “Motion To Vacate” and there is none. To exacerbate the matter, in his response to Mr. Egan’s motion to vacate, Mr. Cochran admitted under duty of truth that he had exercised due diligence and was unable to find a beneficiary to the judgment creditor/decedent’s will or to the default judgment.
Unquestionably, the default judgment and 10 year renewal of judgment were obtained by fraudulent conspiracy and collusion, and Judge Follett obstructed Mr. Egan’s rights repeatedly in order to cover for his and his partner’s indiscretions.
Should Judge Follett assert that these numerous anomalies are mere legal error, then the same claim must serve an admission of fundamental incompetence on the part of Judge Follett. Either way, the numerous and callous disregard of Claimant’s due process rights is sufficient cause for removal.
Showing a clear fraudulent conduct on the part of Judge Follett is that he has, many times, accepted disqualification when the issue of prior partnership was raised in other cases. By selecting when to accept disqualification and when not, is clearly shows as an admission Judge Follett knows a conflict exists.
Judge Follett retired in December 2018. Complainant Mr. Egan and the Crescent City/Del Norte County Taxpayers Association requests that the Commission make a recommendation that Judge William Follett not be hired under the retired judges’ program. If already hired, Complainant asks the Commission to recommend his employment be terminated.
Jackie Simonsen, Board Member
Crescent City/Del Norte County Taxpayers Association